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The Day I Cried

I'm not a crier. I used to be, but I can count on my fingers the times I cried in the past 20 years. Not when I lost my grandma 17 years ago. Not when I lost my grandfather 5 years ago. Not when my uncle passed away 4 years ago. But 8 years ago today, I cried. Boy did I cry. See, 8 years ago today I was standing in the labor and delivery room at Staten Island University Hospital. At 29.5 weeks, we weren't ready to have our second child. After 10 hours of trying to stop labor, unsuccessfully, the doctors let us know that there's no stopping him. This tiny bundle, all of 2 lb 8 oz, is coming today. I remember very little about that day, but one thing I remember: a nurse coming up to me, putting her arm around my shoulder & telling me "it's going to be okay. We have a great NICU and your child will be okay." For anyone who's ever been in a tough spot, you know the last thing you want to hear is consolation. The fear is so raw. So real. Mendel was born at 8 lb 5 oz. You're telling me a baby a quarter his size is going to be okay!? How can I ever believe you? For the next few weeks, we went to the hospital every day to see him. We'd sing to him. Hold him. Say the Shema to him. Even when he was evacuated in advance of hurricane Irene. As soon as Shàbbos or the holiday was over over, we'd get right In the car and drive over. On the eve of Yom Kipur, when fathers bless their children, Maish got his Blessing right there in his incubator. I still wasn't sure the nurse was right. I never celebrated every gram of weight gain before. I never celebrated every mililiter of milk consumed before. After 11 weeks of highs and lows, our sweet baby came home. A week later, he had his Bris and became Maish (Moshe). He hasn't stopped surprising us since. Maish is an energetic, funky, athletic, sports-loving kid. He continues to give us Nachas every day. He continues to push himself to become better. After eight years, I can say the nurse was right. Maish is okay. Happy eighth birthday sweet Maish! We love you so much!

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